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Admission rates of orthopedic patients to intensive care units are increasing. Thus, an intensivist's familiarity with specific problems associated with major joint replacement surgery is of utmost importance in order to meet the needs of this particular patient population. In this article, the authors review the most commonly encountered complications after major hip and knee arthroplasty. Perioperative risk factors for morbidity and mortality and the epidemiology, diagnosis, and treatment of cardiopulmonary complications in this patient population are discussed. Procedure-specific complications such as fat embolism and acrylic bone cement—related issues are reviewed.